Photo by Frederick
Store manager Rose Metz, left, and worker Diane Churchill
surrounded themselves in warbird apparel at their store in the
Warbirds of America area.
July 27, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin - Rose
Metz of Oshkosh retired from retail sales—but she just can’t stay
away. She manages the Warbirds store at AirVenture each year, and she
keeps track of what people want.
“We have a big guys’ rack this year,”
Rose says, nodding toward a clothing fixture holding warbird shirts in 2X,
3X, and 4X sizes. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Rose stocked
toddlers’ togs this year for the first time. No flying tigers will be
found here; more like flying teddy bears.
Expanded variety in women’s clothing is
another touch Rose and her crew brought to AirVenture 2009. From
short-sleeve shirts to undeniably girly caps, they covered the bases.
Also new this year are variations on
large-scale plastic model P-51 Mustangs and Bf-109 fighters, already
assembled, painted, and weathered.
Rose has a crew of about 10 to 15 volunteers
who help staff the shop, and things can get busier than a quartermaster’s
depot facing a busload of new recruits needing uniforms. Last year, gross
sales in the warbird shop tallied $88,000 just for the week of AirVenture.
Rose says her volunteers, from as far away as
Illinois and Tennessee, keep coming back to work the store during each
AirVenture. “I have a group of volunteers who just do not quit,” she
says. “They’re always here.”
Warbird book sales are brisk each year. During
the popular Warbirds in Review sessions with celebrity pilots, Rose’s
staff brings pertinent books to the site, where audience members may buy
them and ask the pilots for autographs.
In addition to the new gear for 2009, the shop
stocks a large variety of perennially popular warbird-emblazoned T-shirts
and ball caps, plus flight jackets and Warbirds of America pins, patches,
decals, and flags.
But be forewarned: two things the Warbirds of
America store does not stock: ear plugs and sun lotion. “People want ear
plugs and lotion,” Rose notes. “We send them down to the Sky Shoppe.”